Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 6: Gibraltar Or Bust

In which our heroine repairs to her honeymoon

Previously Mary-Mary became Marye. All London turned out for her wedding to Lord Dunnie. And they took the Grand Tour of London but missed the Queen. It was Thursday.

It was a cheeky day in Londontown when his lordship the Lord Mayor met Lord and Lady P. P. on the bridge of the ship of the Britannia Line, the Queen Victoria, Empress of India. He presented the newlyweds with the Keys to the Tower. “Just in case,” his Lord Mayorship mumbled, giving the old wink and nod to Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypottt. He wished the two a happy bon voyage. Then they were off to honeymoon on Gibraltar where the Great Dane Prissypott had a relative or three.

The voyage was uneventful. No stormy seas. No rotten weather. A rather pleasant sea trip it was. One evening her ladyship left her betrothed snoring away in their state room, happy in the knowledge that he and his estates were cared for. Marye found herself on the deck, looking out at the sunset colors traipsing across the sky, dreaming of a life that might have been but would never be. Standing there looking out to sea, she overheard the conversation of a nearby couple.

“May I have an advance,” the quite elderly man said, “on my allowance?”

“You’ve had three advances already.” There was frustration in the woman’s voice. She was in her mid-thirties.

“But you do love me, do you not?” His voice sounded almost like a prayer in his pleading.

“Not particularly. I do love your title, dear. But the unfortunate thing is that you had to come with it. That’s an earl of a different estate, you know.”

Marye thought how sad, and under such a lovely sky on show for the world to see. And that sky was completely free. Right then and there, she made a determination. She would not become “that woman.” She had made her bed; now she would lie in it happily. No more Dilly, no more dallying. She made up her pretty little thing of a mind to be the best ladyship to her lord she could be. She walked quickly back to the state room.

“Dear Dunnie, awake,” she said, shaking Lord P. P. out of his slumber.

“What? What?” his eyes opened, his monocle popped out.

“Dear, get up and get dressed. Your new bride wants to go dancing. There’s a lovely orchestra, and I love to dance. Time’s a-wasting.”

Sad to say, her ladyship was still a virgin when the ship docked at Gibraltar. No matter the effort P. P. put in, he just couldn’t get it up. His get-up had got up and gone quite some time ago.

When they landed, his lordship and his virginal young bride were greeted by the Governor-Commissioner of the Island, Sir Hackle Loopsey. He watched Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypott waddle off the ship with his new bride, then turned to his youngest son, Quilip, and said, “I say, Ducks, there’s a bride for you. I must pack you off to America.”

“But, Father, dear Father,” the twenty-five-year-old Quills, as Quilip was called, disagreed, “I am simply not interested.”

“Oh, Quills,” his father said, “don’t be such a fop.”

“Don’t you mean rake, old man?”

“I most assuredly do not. You’re a fop. Your brother is a fop. And your sister is a fop’s sister.”

Straightening his tie, the youngest son said, “Then that means you’re a fop’s pops, doesn’t it?”

The Gov ignored his son and escorted Dunnie and Marye back to the Government House with a British propriety that would have made Wellington proud. At the ceremonies welcoming the Distinguished Gentleman from Haggismarshe and his new wife, an immense and very big banquet was served, befitting a visit by such a Class A Dignitary. Toasts were toasted by all the bigs of the island. Soups were souped and served by a dozen or so retainers who had been retained for the occasion. Chicken soup, turtle soup, kidney pie soup, and best of all, soup soup.

As the speakers persisted with their speechifying, P. P. listened with one ear turned toward the speeches and the other, his right one to be exact, toward the slurping sucking sound of the Governor-Commissioner scooping his soup from his bowl. Colonel Chowder of Her Majesty’s Hussars was giving a chatty little talk about how he had spent so much time in the East, and how he longed for dear old England, and how Britannia ruled the waves.

“Here, here,” several of the others spoke up agreeing that Britannia did indeed rule the waves. Dunnie poured a bit of kidney pie soup into his saucer. He raised the saucer to his schnauzer of a nozzle and whispered to himself, “Rather delightful odor.” He lowered the saucer to the table. Then he slurped and he sucked and he snorted and he slurped some more as he scooped a sip of his soup with his soup spoon from his saucer. Quite suddenly, the happy marriage …

Ended.

Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe dropped his face into his saucer of soup. His schnauze buried itself in the soup in the saucer. He was deceased. That is another way of saying that his lordship was cold, stone dead.

Doctor Mannville Mannvile from the island’s Surgery commented later that the good lord had not been able to withstand the anticipation of a night of sexual delight with Lady Marye.

“He’s gone and made himself into a corpus delicti!” his lady wailed. “The dear man.” Then she did what was expected. She feinted a faint, sliding under the table and onto the floor. In those days, that was what respectable wives did no matter how they felt about their husbands. It was the thing to do to keep themselves in the good graces of Society.

The Gibraltarians hovered around her ladyship. Doctor Mannvile gave her smelling salts to smell. As she awoke, she muttered to herself, “Now I will never know the passionate embrace of a man. I will have to remain a virgin to the end of my days.” She began to sob.

“My lady,” the governor said, “you have our deepest sympathies. Remember even though you are a widow, you don’t have to take it lying down. You’ll make it through this. You’re sired from a hardy stock, as hardy as this soup. You’re an American. Besides that, you’re British. So keep your upper lip stiff. Remember the sun never sets on the Empire, even though it most assuredly did set on dear old Dunnie, poor chap.”

Such is life, and a run of good luck for her ladyship, I’d say. Wouldn’t you, dear reader? However she did not take it that way. None of us ever do, though fortune drops onto our head like a ton of bricks. All we want to do is worry about the broken neck. We don’t look at the good thing that comes out of this. That we’re getting six weeks off from our employment. No, she blamed herself for his demise. Her only consolation: he died happy, with a smile and a bowl of soup on his face.

Chas. Cheslewick, the foppish fop of an elder son of Loopsey, flopped down adjacent to her ladyship  and said, rather cavalierly, “He was a real pip, your husband.”

“Chassie,” Sir Loopsey said to his ill-timed son, “don’t be such a quimby.” Then he turned to Marye and explained, “Quimby’s our dog and he’s a real pisser. I have the pants to show for it.”

“Such a horrible waste of soup,” the very Mrs. Chowder interjected. A thrifty Scot of a woman if there ever was one. Otherwise all in the room were stunned as silence waded its way through the Government House like an icy wind coming off the sea.

After a duly noted amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Colonel Chowder offered his services to the widow. Still a virgin, she shined with a virginal glow as she thanked him copiously. She refused any assistance from him, the governor or his foppish fops of wastrel sons who kept fopping about foppingly. Instead she removed her dead husband’s dried-up prune of a lordly baronial body and loaded it onto the next ship back to England.

Next week: You just never know who you’ll meet in a Gentlemen’s Club

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 5: No Queen, No Bohemian Rhapsody

In which our heroine sees London

Previously a wedding and lots of peeps show up.

The newly wedded couple, Lord and Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott, headed across Trafalgar and passed the statues of Lords Wellington and Nelson. As their carriage bypassed the great men, Prissypott saluted them with a right good salute, hearing a “well-done” whispered in his ear by the two greats. After all, in his younger days, he too had been an officer of the military persuasion and quite a good sportsman too, running the hounds and all. Then it was on to the Palace for the Queen and her blessing.

However, that wasn’t to be. Dunny and Marye, Lord and Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe, were stopped by two Guards at the Gate of the Palace.

“I say, old boy,” Lord P. P. insinuated, “we’re here to see the Queen. We’re to receive her blessing.”

The tallest of the two tall guards, the one on the right, a rather good fellow responded, “There’ll be no queen-seeing today. Her Majesty is unavailable, sir.”

“She’s off dusting, you see,” the second of the two added. “The Queen’s prerogative, you know. Besides it’s Thursday, her day off. And you know how upset the Queen gets when she doesn’t get her day. It’ll be freaking nuts around here, that’s what it’ll be.”

“Perhaps that’s why she’s always sniffling with the sneezes,” Marye piped in. “From the dusting off. Leastways that’s what I have deduced from the papers.”

“I say, dear,” Lord P. P. offered, “ingenious deduction. You may very well be right. And I always induced that it was because Her Majesty was in mourning from the loss of her dear Albert.”

“Ain’t that a hoot?” Marye laughed. “I mean, my deducing.”

“A hoot?” the tall guard, the one on the right, the rather good fellow questioned. “What’s a hoot?”

“That’s American for … “ Marye started to say but didn’t. It would’ve spoiled the ruse they’d been rusing.

“Never you mind, old chap,” Dunnie piped in instead. “It’s a word in her ladyship’s native vocabulary. It is untranslatable into God-Save-the Queen English.” Turning to his ladyship, the old gent said, “Well, I know how disappointed you must be.”

“I am,” Lady P. P. said. “Disappointed, that is. What else would I be but disappointed?”

“How true, how true. I completely forgot Thursdays are Her Majesty’s day off. If we can’t see the Queen, we can’t see the Queen. Her Majesty will be so disappointed. She was looking forward to meeting your bosoms. I mean, your beautiful smile. I mean you. Well, you know what I mean?”

Lady P. P. most assuredly did know what he meant. His eyes had not removed themselves from her since that morning when they had done their “I doeses.”

Dunnie leaned out the window of the carriage and spoke to the driver. “Leavers, turn this thing around and take us home.”

Marye smiled, then laughed. P. P. was amazed.

“I am amazed,” P. P. said to his virginal bride.” Your optimism and all in the face of such disappointment. One could say that Her Majesty was rude if she weren’t Her Majesty and one were to say it. But she is Her Majesty. Therefore, she cannot be rude. She can only be majestic. How do you Americans keep up your optimism? I am always astonished that you in the colonies can be so cheery in the foggiest of Londons. All we English can do is keep our upper lips stiff, old girl.”

“Practice, I guess,” Marye said, admiring the sights as the good lord glanced approvingly at his pulchritudinous bride. “Besides it’s all a hoot anyway.”

They, the two of them plus Leavers that is, returned to Lord P. P.’s London residence. There the servants gathered up his luggage and his medications and his walker and his canes and her stuff too, and off they went down to the docks. They were to ship off on the Queen. Not The Queen Victoria, but the Queen Victoria, Empress of India, a ship of the Britannia line. Aboard the ship in their suite, the servants left the two and their luggage and went back to close-up the London residence.

Next week: The Honeymoon Suite

 

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 4: Nuptialling All Over the Place

In which our heroine says her I doeses

Previously Mary-Mary Smith agreed to marry Lord Dunnie and become a lady. Mother di Fussye-Pants gets her a title. And now on with the show.

Mary-Mary Smith, or Marye Caterina Olgastoya, Viscountess dat Renalla-Macedoni as she was now known, arrived in England on Monday. On Thursday, she was to marry a titled, land-rich, money-poor, one hundred and nine-year-old, prune face of an English lord. To say that Lord Dunnville, or “Dunnie” as he was called by his nearest and dearest as the reader has learned, was a wrinkled old prune of a face could be construed as a compliment for the antiquely wrinkled old gentleman.

The wedding was The Event of the Season. The Abbey—Westminster Abbey, that is—was rented for the occasion and Everybody-Who-Was-Anybody attended. Anybody-Who-Was-A-Somebody was there. Nobody-Who-Was-A-Nobody was there as well. Sir Quentin Nobody, the Lord Mayor of London, that is. Only the Queen and Her Majesty’s Prime Minister’s Personal Secretary absented themselves. But one or two less or more was no matter to the future Lady of Haggismarshe. As one American tourist said to her husband afterwards, “I’m telling you, Henry, the house was packed.” It was the bit of spot-on that London Society needed to conclude a successful Season.

Only Moms complained. Mary-Mary’s parents were put behind the P. M., and his party and they couldn’t see as well as they would’ve liked. The P. M.’s very bald head kept bobbing around, blocking the view.

Prime Minister Argyle Mactavish’s Personal Secretary, known as the P. S., not the B. S. as some claimed, he was away on business, in very delicate negotiations with the Duchy of Pimpletonia. England desperately needed to access the Duchy’s vast deposits of politicians for a secret project the British government had recently instituted. If it worked, there would never be an energy crisis in Merry Olde England again. All that hot air and all, you know. And Her Duchiness had been a very modicum of Pimpletonia touchiness about the whole affair. P. M. had his P. S. rsvp that the P. S. was to represent P. M. as the P. S. often did when P. M. was unavailable. After all, the P. M. did not want to miss The Event of the Season.

Her Majesty was still in mourning. She had been mourning the death of her beloved Albert for decades. In her stead, Prince of Wales and his Princess attended to show their support for Uncle Wimpie, as Wales liked to call the grand old bridegroom. They put in their brief appearance as the nuptials were about to be nuptialized by the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Lord Englewood Buckett.

Other than Her Majesty and the P. S., only Wales’ mistress, Carpilla Baggs, was absented from the ceremonies. Wales called her affectionately his carpe diem; the press disaffectionately referred to her as Carpet Bagger. However, the Prince would see his much-loved C. B. shortly after the marriage ceremony. That is, if he could lose the Princess at Buckingham and hail a cab.

The crowd of commoners gathering around the Abbey was enormous. It was large. Bigger than big. Besides that, there were a lot of people there. They stood outside to observe the aristocracy doing their aristocratic thing. It was a rare occasion for commoners to glimpse or even see a real live lord or lady out in the world. It wasn’t done in Society. This was one such occasion indeed and most Londoners were reticent not to be there. It was like a holiday. They brought their picnic baskets. They brought their beer to do a right good sendoff.

It was raining. So it was out with the brollies. Very English, you know. No red, blue or purple umbrellas. Only black brollies. They were not about to give up a glance of the new bride. It wasn’t often that they had a chance of seeing an ancient lord wedding a foreign princess and they were not about to miss this one for the world.

At the sound of Big Ben big-benning one in the pms in the afternoon, Lord Bishop Buckett, the Arch of Canterbury, looked down upon his audience. An audience of lords and knights, ladies and dames, earls and earlesses, baronets and barons up to the tuckus, the best dressed gang in the whole of the realm of England. He smiled his most benevolent of smiles, then delivered a sermon to beat all sermons, a list of the doeses and don’tses that a marriage of the nobility should follow. His melodious voice filled the Abbey with such melodiousness many felt it was one of his finest, one that he could proudly add to a long list of his fine sermons better known as the “Buckett List.”

Then the nuptuals were completed. The lord and his lady were now wedded with a suddenness that surprised her ladyship with its suddenness.

As the rain, stopped the Bride and Groom stepped out of Westminster to the sound of the Abbey bells, while confetti confettied down upon them.

As the couple entered their carriage, a dark-haired woman watched from the distance. Elegantly dressed in black, she frowned. After all, her plan to marry the aristocratic old coot of a bridegroom had failed. She had arrived too too late to make the connections for an introduction. Since Plan A had failed, it was on to Plan B. If Plan B failed, it would be on to Plan C. And if Plan C failed, she would continue through the alphabet till voila, Success.

Next Week: Cheer up and have a spot of tea

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 1: A Man Without a Wife is still a Man Without a Wife

The Absolutely Unbelievable Endearing Adventures of Lady Marye Wimpleseed-Prissypott
–an entertainment–
This novel is not based on a true story.

Chapter One
A Man Without a Wife is still a Man Without a Wife
Wherein we meet a member of the British lordly class

This story begins before the British brexited themselves. This story begins before Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair ran things. This story begins before the Beatles dumped Pete Best and ringoed their way into legend. This story begins before Edward renounced the throne. And, yes, it begins before the war to end all wars. It begins in the time when the sun never set on the Empire and Britannia ruled the waves. It begins when God was an Englishman and Victoria tended her garden.

It begins in the late, late, very late nineteenth century when Lady Marye Wimpleseed-Prissypott indeed was to come by her title honorably. Lady P. P., as she was referred to in the dispatches, married for it. When she was Mary-Mary Smith, a sweet young thing, all of eighteen, she wedded into the monocled class of the British aristocracy. She tied the metaphorical knot with the old fuddy-duddy Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe.

Like many a red-blooded English blue-blood, the roots of Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypott’s family went deep into the once fertile soil of the English aristocracy. It stretched all the way back to the Conqueror and then some. He had a coat of arms to prove it too. In fact, his ancestral line could be traced farther back than that. His great-great-great-to-the-tenth great grandsire had been of the Viking persuasion. The man, Eric Prissyson, raped and plundered with the best of them, plowing a trail of terror through half the island of Britain. Anything in sight and great grandsire raped it, then looted it, then raped it some more.

When the Conqueror came to the Isles in One-Ought-Six-Six, EricPrissyson’s six boys, being the mercenaries they were, joined up with Duke William. They were responsible for composing the well-known “When Willie Comes Marching Home” to honor Conqueror’s conquest of the Isles. William the Norman Guy dubbed them Prissypottes, then rewarded them for their treachery with land, land, and more land. No cash, just land.

Somewhere along the way, between Conqueror and Lionheart, Lord Dunville’s progenitors dropped the “e.” It may have been his infamous ancestor, the Sheriff of Nottingham of Robin Hood fame, who started the practice, and it stuck. Under the reign of Henry 8, the Prissypotts combined their household with another illustrious family, the Wimpleseeds.

A duel or two was held over which family name would take precedence over the other and come first. Sir Alfred Prissypott, being a very near-sighted bloke and half blind too, lost to the head of the Wimpleseeds, Lord Pointe-head Wimpleseed. Thus the family name was Wimpleseed-Prissypott for all time.

Being of such an ancient and illustrious lineage, the Wimpleseed-Prissypotts intermarried throughout the aristocracy like crazy. The current Earl of Haggismarshe was in some way related to ninety-nine-point-nine-nine percent of the lords in the Lords. That’s the House of Lords for all you non-British readers. In spite of all the land and inbreeding and interbreeding, this final heir of Wimpleseed-Prissypott lineage lacked one thing. He had no cash.

Lord Dunnville had outlived five well-off wives. Nary a one of them had left him enough of a cash flow to sustain his large estates and provide a maintenance. His years as a Viceroy in the Raj had brought him nothing but a spot of fever. Poverty kept watch on the doorsteps of his holdings, and he had responsibilities. Oh, he had responsibilities. There were servants to provide for, illegitimate children to educate, tenants to employ. Plus a mistress or three on the side. And bankruptcy was out of the question. After all, this was England, and it wasn’t done.

Then one day in 1894, at The Club in London, his good friend Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants had proposed an ideal proposal. “Look west, old man,” Sir Myles offered, “look west.”

“Dear me, no,” Lord Dunnie said, his mustache raising its hairs in protest. “I lived in Ireland once and it was much too Irish for me. All that Guinness and a potatoes-only diet. No thank you. I’m a steak and kidney pie man myself.”

“Oh no, dear chap,” Sir retorted. “Good god, man, certainly not Ireland. I mean look to America.”

“Rah-ther pleeze,” Dunnie said. “I am not interested in barbarians. They’re savages over there. I saw Buffalo Bill at the Royal Albert. That Annie Oakley lass shooting up the American Exhibition, you know. Too much bang-bang. If I had wanted an Indian wife, I would have arranged for one when I was in the Raj. I knew quite a few maharajahs out there in the Frontier. They all had daughters they were trying to get off their hands.”

“No, no, my good Dunnie,” Sir said. “The Americans are not all savages. Some of the colonists even have a smattering of manners. They know when to sit and they know when to stand. And they can be taught when to curtsy and when to bow.”

“Can they now?”

“In New York, they have heiresses, just lounging around and waiting for a title. That’s how I acquired my EmmiliaLouise. I call her my Two Em’ed Emma or Two-Ems for short. She used to be Emmylou Muddythwistle, the daughter of a cattle baron. Of course, they are not real barons the way we English are. They like to call themselves thus.”

“I could never stand the smell of a steak in the raw,” Dunnie commented. “No cattle ranching for me. I like mine well-cooked.”

“No, no, Dunnie, old boy. I’ve never been required to commune with the cows. The baron sends Two-Ems a very generous allowance and we spend it. Rah-ther I spend it. Once we were engaged I couldn’t introduce her to society as Emmylou. We changed her to an EmmiliaLouise and gave the Muddythwistles a pedigree as well as a pedicure. She became a Thwistle from Muddystenstein-in-the-Alps. Now that we have tied the proverbial knot, I am fixed for life, you see. And look how mannered she has become. She curtsies very well when she is out and about in society.”

“I say,” Dunnie said. “Quite a setup you have there, dear boy.”

“Only one disconcerting item. It is quite troubling to have the wife do a y’all and a war whoop during fornication. Quite disturbing. Quite disturbing. But that’s the way they do it in some place called Texas. Wherever Texas is.”

“Terribly embarrassing, I would suspect.”

“One must suffer for one’s class. Noblesse oblige and all that rot, you know.”

“How right you are, how right you are.”

“Anyway, old sport, I have the right heiress for you. Someone my dear Two-Ems suggested would be a perfect match for you after I told her of your ‘situation.’ She’s an endearing young thing all of eighteen, blonde, buxomy and tall. What she lacks in manners, she’ll make up in bank account.”

“You don’t say. That does sound like a very attractive proposition. After all, my bankie is down to its last shilling. I could very well use an influx of cash. Have servants to pay, crops to grow, mistresses to mistress.”

“This marriage could be the hit of the social season. It’s been a bit of a time since the Prissypotts have had a hit. And this would be a coup de hit.”

“You do say? ”Dunnie said.

“Yes, I do say. After all, the Crown is beginning to wander if you are a one-hit wonder. Viceroying and all.”

“I must admit I am such a silly wicket and you are quite correct. Quite. Being in the poorhouse does build character. But I’ve enough character for three generations. By george, make the match, and I shall do it. I shall do it up good.”

“Besides,” Sir said, “it will give your wicket a chance to wacket.”

“I have mistresses for that, dear boy. Mistresses.”

“You can still have them on the side. By the by, how do you keep it up, old chap?”

“One has to do one’s duty for Queen and country. One does have to do one’s duty.”

“Yes, one does as I well know,” Sir asked, “So? Are we agreed? Do we have an engagement?”

“I would say rah-ther,” Lord said. “I do seem to be running out of rah-thers to say. But yes. Most definitely. That is, if America is willing.”

“Three cheers for you, old bugger. Three cheers and run up the colors. The Regiment’s about to have a wedding. It would have been a bore of a bear of a season without one. And you’ll come through with your very stiff upper lip as always. You’re going to do your class proud. My dear Two-Ems will see to the arrangements. She is very good at arranging arrangements, you know.”

Next Week: A Muddythwistle by any other name is still a Muddythwistle